Sunrise light on a grove of tufa towers emerging from the water of Mono Lake with soft green and dusty-red wild grasses in the foreground, Canada geese in the shallow water with reflections of the rocky towers, and desert hills in the distance.

Refreshing ‘Ologists: Water law plus geology with Craig Jones

This post was written by Molly Casey, 2017 Mono Lake Intern.

This Wednesday, October 11 at 4:00pm is our last Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists presentation of the year. Join us in the Mono Lake Committee gallery to hear from Craig Jones, a geologist at the University of Colorado, about the relationship between water law and geology at Mono Lake and how both have had significant effects on how the lake has evolved over time.

Geologist Craig Jones will talk about how the Sierra Nevada west of Mono Lake affect the climate in the Mono Basin. Photo by Ava Stavros.

Years ago, to acquire water exports from the Mono Basin, Los Angeles used California water laws that first emerged in the goldfields of the western Sierra. These laws allowed for the transport of entire rivers and streams to other places so long as beneficial use was made of those waters. So one facet of Mono Lake’s declining lake level was the creation and unchecked use of such laws in California.

However, Mono Lake receives relatively little rain and snowfall to begin with, thanks to the height of the Sierra Nevada, which creates a rain shadow effect in the Mono Basin. Seismic and volcanic activity on the east side of the Sierra created a basin where water collected, forming Mono Lake, and that basin continues to drop even today—the onset of the dropping basin is tied to the uplift of the range.

If you are interested in how water law and geology have worked together to give us the Mono Lake we know today, and if you enjoy free snacks, don’t miss Craig’s presentation this Wednesday at 4:00pm at the Mono Lake Committee.

One comment